August 17, 2013
“The Top 2o Questions People Ask About God,
Jesus, Bible, & Christianity Today”
Part 3 of 4 (#11 – 15)
Welcome to Evergreen Speedway …and at Chapel today we take on #11 to #15 top questions people have about Christianity today. So let’s go:
11. Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen To Good People?
The fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden is responsible for letting sin into this world. The minute sin entered the world; everything changed from what it could be to what it now is. God doesn’t wish bad things upon us, only simply to grow us.
Free will is in part due to the reason why bad things happen to good people. God will take something that is bad and transform it into something that is good. The world is made up of free will. People make decisions that have created bad events to transpire in the history of God’s world.
In 1999, Payne Stewart won the U.S. Open in North Carolina at Pinehurst… Later on that year, Payne boarded an airplane that lost pressure in the cabin and the plane ended up going down with Payne dying.
Two or three years before that, Payne Stewart had come to faith and everybody asked him: “You know, you used to be so egotistical, so self-centered. And now we see you and you care for other people. You have compassion. What’s going on?”
Payne was able to share his faith…When Payne passed away, his memorial service was on CNN. Most of the PGA Tour players were there…hundreds, if not thousands, of people came to faith in Christ as a result of hearing Payne’s story and as a result of him dying and having that memorial service. So that’s one instance, where we can see, “OK it’s terrible that Payne died, but there’s been a ton of good that had come out of that.”
The Prophet Isaiah speaks God’s heart in Isaiah 57: 1-2: “Good people die, and no one understands or even cares. But when they die, no calamity can hurt them. Those who live good lives find peace and rest in death.”
That is worthwhile considering God’s secure love and care for His people; however few ever think of death as good or a reward. The Apostle Paul refers directly to this when he says in 2 Corinthians 5:8:
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
But not (in) every instance can we see the good…Ultimately, this side of eternity, we may not know all the answers…
Why doesn’t God just get rid of all evil? If God were to get rid of all evil, if lightning were to strike every time something evil happened, then who of us really would have made it to our 16th birthday? Guys, just consider in the light of Jesus words, where he said… if you look at a woman with lust in your eyes, you’re guilty of adultery… or, how about being guilty of murder if you call someone a fool or angry with someone without a just cause? (Matthew 5: 21-22) That means we are guilty for our heart attitudes! So how long would we live then? Surely not 16 probably!
2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow to do what he has promised, as some think. Instead, he is patient with you, because he does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins.”
Evil, ultimately, enters the world every time man chooses against God.
Why do bad things happen to good people? As we compare ourselves to others, we’re always going to come out ahead, right? But if we use God’s standard which is complete perfection, then, maybe we’re not so good…A great video to go along with that question is on YouTube: Ravi Zacharias’ “How Can a Good God Allow Evil?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it7mhQ8fEq0
12. Why Would God Sacrifice Family For People Who Still Sin?
God knew the very thing that would happen to Jesus. Jesus knew what would happen to Him all of His life. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit had a perfect plan knowing mankind’s plight before the first man Adam was put on earth. Jesus came down from heaven for a purpose. He came down and healed the sick, the lame, the deaf, and raised the dead just to name a few miracles. Ultimately, however, that was not His mission. His mission was to save those who are lost. He is the Shepherd, we are the sheep. God required a perfect sacrifice. A sacrifice who is perfect, blameless, and sinless. That sacrifice was Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, the Jewish community would sacrifice their animals to atone for their sins. However, no sacrifice was ever perfect enough to cover all sins. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice who was crucified to cover the sin of all of humanity for eternity. God did it to save us all. God loves His children so much, that He is willing to do what is needed to bring His children back home. All this in itself shows the difference between God and all the other so called deity and gods of the cults throughout history. In all those others if there was a so called heaven, then people had to work for it, go through reincarnation time after time or burn their kids in fire among other rituals.
13. Why does God allow the wicked to wreak havoc on the righteous; or good people?
Please let me pause a moment at this point to go back and deal with another slant on this same sort of area and look at the question of why God uses absolutely wicked nations to bring punishment upon seemingly “good” nations. In the Old Testament God numerous times used extremely brutal and terrible kings and their nations to bring punishment upon His “own people;” the Hebrews or Jews.
There is a particular area of scripture where God answers this very question. It comes to pass in one case in 605 BC when the wicked Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar conquers God’s people Judah. The other part of His Hebrew nation, Israel had already gone into captivity.
The Prophet Jeremiah had been sent by God in numerous attempts to wake the people of Judah up to what God planned for them if they failed to turn from their evil ways. Jeremiah’s prophesies were delivered verbatim as directed by God and were bleak and horrible. However, the people consistently ignored them as stupid and ridiculous in spite of what had already happened to their counterpart Israel.
While Jeremiah continues his prophesies against Judah and its oppressors, one of Jeremiah’s contemporaries named Habakkuk poses the profound theological question which must nag at everyone of the day that was seriously listening to the prophets. It had to be a question that even the various prophets themselves had considered. As you read Habakkuk’s prophesies you quickly realize that he was certainly concerned about it.
Once again, that question is this: how can a righteous and holy God use a wicked nation like Babylonia to bring punishment against God’s own people, rebellious and sinful though they may be? Are not the ruthless Babylonians and other oppressors of Judah merely acting on their own in great arrogance and with no thought whatever of achieving any divine purpose? How then can God permit these unrighteous nations to succeed in their evil oppressions? And that question also stretches beyond even the present conflicts of the day to other related issues. Consider that question of How can God permit the wicked to prosper, often at the expense of the righteous? And, after that one; how can a righteous God permit evil to exist at all?
When you read the book of Habakkuk, you will note that God does not provide all the answers in His dialog with Habakkuk, but He does address the central question that plagues us still today.
God’s answer is that evil, wherever it is found, ALWAYS bears within it the seeds of its own destruction. We find in this case that Judah’s sins have condemned it to inevitable destruction. Here as well as still today the particular agency by which destruction comes is of no consequence. The enemy may be a righteous or a wicked nation – it matters not. But likewise, if the oppressors themselves are evil – as the Babylonians are here – then they too will face their own destruction. Only in righteousness is there life; sin ALWAYS brings death.
I hope that you take time to delve into the book of Habakkuk. It is a rich one for sure. Read it in a newer translation like New King James (NKJ) or New International Version (NIV) or even the Message version.
In all reality I can only say that all there is to say on this subject is wrapped up in one simple scripture; perhaps the best known one of all …John 3: 16: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. “ God’s reasoning cannot get anymore simple than that!
14. How is the Trinity possible?
The trinity is simply a symbol for the three in one that is our God. The trinity represents God, the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Confused yet? I’ll try to explain in simply at first.
God is all three of these things. First, God is the Father, the Master and Ruler of our lives. When we weep, He comforts us as any loving father would. Secondly, God is also Jesus Christ. That’s right. Jesus Christ is God in flesh and blood. This is why He was able to perform so many miracles including the Resurrection. Then third God is also the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is like the whisper of God, and absolutely not to be confused with your conscience. The Holy Spirit is the same power that rose Jesus from the grave. The Holy Spirit, who whispers to us, especially in times of great importance lives within every Christian.
Scripture directly bears witness to the Trinity in the following verses; among many others: 2 Corinthians 13:14;
Matthew 3: 16-17: The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and He saw God’s Spirit—it looked like a dove—descending and landing on Him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by My love, the delight of My life.” (GBB)
Matthew 28:19: Go, then, to all peoples everywhere on earth and make them My disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit… (GBB)
Romans 8:9 – 11: But if God Himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of Him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome Him, in whom He dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and He does, as surely as He did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With His Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s! (GBB)
2 Corinthians 13:14: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and extravagant love of God the Father, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. (GBB)
Lastly, let me put forth this example of Trinity’s unseen existence:
As a painter reveals part of himself, his style, and what he is, in his painting, so too, God has revealed part of Himself, His style, and what He is in His creation. Creation reflects, to a large degree, the qualities of God Himself. Let’s take a look:
-The universe is ordered; therefore, we know that God is a God of order.
-The universe operates on laws; therefore, God is a God of law.
-The universe has a beginning; therefore, God is the creator.
-In mathematics, there is an infinity of numbers. In the universe there is an infinity of distance; Therefore, God the creator of the universe, is infinite.
-Absolute truths exist in creation, (i.e., something can not be both itself and not itself at the same time); therefore, God is absolute truth.
-The universe is comprised of three primary aspects: Space, Time, and Matter.
Space is comprised of height, width, and depth – a trinity – but each aspect is by nature space.
-Time is comprised of past, present, and future – a trinity – but each aspect is by nature time.
-Matter is comprised of solid, liquid, and gas – a trinity – but each aspect is by nature matter.
Therefore, we can conclude from looking at the universe, and God as its creator, that it is possible for God to have a Trinitarian aspect to His nature since we see it in nature.
If it is fair to say that God may indeed be Trinitarian in some aspect of His nature, then God could easily be Trinitarian in nature and still be the one and only God.
God could easily be a plurality and all aspects of this plurality, being of God, would be divine by nature.
Since God is self-aware, has a will, can speak, etc., then it follows that the plural aspects of God could share, in some way, those same qualities.
If this is possible, then why cannot part of God, since God is a plurality, become a man and add human nature to itself?
We can see that there are trinities in nature. So, why can’t God be a Trinity as well and creation simply be a reflection, in part, of His greatness? It is certainly possible. If the Trinity were illogical, then the possibility would not exist. There is no logical reason why the Trinity can not be a reality. It is up to the Muslim to demonstrate a logical contradiction regarding the doctrine of one God in three persons which they freak out over and vehemently deny. Simply stating it isn’t logical or that it isn’t possible proves nothing at all.
The Bible has declared that God is indeed a Trinity and that Jesus is both God and man (John 1:1, 14; Col. 2:9; etc.). Christians have a living Redeemer as they have God as their Savior.
15. How Can A Virgin Give Birth?
This has got to be one of most heated questions up for debate in terms of theology. For years, people have debated the fact that Jesus Christ was born of a Virgin. Considering what is needed for a child to be born, the answer is relatively simple IF you are a believer. Mary, the Virgin who birthed Jesus Christ into the world was chosen by God to bring into the world the sinless and blameless man who would come to save us and would bring both a new era and method of what was needed to be saved, have eternal life, and have man’s relationship to God restored to before the fall of mankind.
Many people who are not Christians would be stunned at this fact, maybe even thinking that it’s a copout. However, it is the truth. She was chosen, as it was her destiny and the very plan of God to be mother to Jesus Christ. For with God, anything is possible.
You see, FAITH is the entire issue here. FIRST, one has to believe in God existing and being who He is. And, if He is who He is; then what is so hard about His ability to do as He pleases. After all, God spoke this entire universe and everything in it into existence. So what would be so hard to place a child, …and not just any child, …but the willing and planned out before time began, Son of God, and God Himself, into the womb of a virgin teenager who was watched over, protected, and totally willing in her own right because she believed in, loved, and trusted God from her childhood. That is a no-brainer if you ask me.
I also believe it is absolutely essential to the faith, for it attests to the identity of Jesus – namely, that He was God in the flesh.
Make no mistake about it – if Jesus was not God, then His sacrifice for our sins was meaningless. No imperfect man could have died for our sins, because his death would not have appeased our Creator’s demand for justice. Our sin bearer had to be a perfect man, and thus he had to be divine.
The first mention of the virgin birth in prophecy is found in Genesis 3:15. In this verse, God tells Satan that the redemption of Mankind will come through one who will be born of “the seed of woman.”
Another prophecy is found in Jeremiah 31:22: “The Lord has created a new thing in the earth – a woman will encompass a man.” This is a rather enigmatic prophecy, but the important thing about it is that Jewish rabbis over the centuries have interpreted it to mean that the Messiah will have a miraculous origin. As one rabbi put it, the conception of the Messiah will be “like the dew of the Lord upon a woman.”
The Hebrew prophets pointed to the divinity of the Messiah. Isaiah said He would be “Immanuel,” meaning “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14). Isaiah also said the Messiah would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Micah stated that the Messiah would be one who had existed “from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).
If Jesus was the Messiah, as He claimed to be (Mark 14:61-64 & John 4:25-26), then He had to be God in the flesh. That requires a miraculous conception, because all people born of human parents are born with a fallen sin nature (Psalm 51:5 & Ephesians 2:3). To deny the virgin birth is to deny the deity of Jesus.
Now, lets look to Mary herself and her actions since it is the best evidence:
Consider first of all the immediate reaction of Mary to Gabriel’s announcement that she would conceive a son whose name would be Jesus (Luke 1:31). Mary responded: “How can this be since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). Mary may have been a very young woman (probably about 13 years old), but she knew how a baby was conceived, and she therefore knew it was not possible for her to have a child. That’s why Gabriel responded by declaring, “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
Further evidence of Mary’s innocence is to be found in the first action she took after she became pregnant (Luke 1:39-40). She “went with haste” to share the news with some relatives! Now, how many unwed pregnant girls have you ever seen behave in that manner? They are usually so overcome with guilt and shame that they want to hide. They certainly don’t want to share the news with relatives!
Even more significant is the kind of relatives Mary selected. The head of the household was a priest by the name of Zacharias (Luke 1:5). Keep in mind that although Mary was only betrothed to Joseph and had not yet consummated the marriage, she was considered married to him. If she became pregnant during the betrothal period, she was considered an adulteress and was thus subject to stoning or divorce. In other words, she faced death or humiliation. Yet, she ran to a priestly family to share the news of her pregnancy. If she had been guilty of adultery, it would have been the responsibility of Zacharias as a priest to report her. This evidently did not concern Mary because she went in innocence.
Further evidence of Mary’s innocence is found in the description of her arrival at the house of Zacharias. His wife, Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with John the Baptist, felt the baby leap in her womb with joy when Mary entered the house! (See Luke 1:41 & 44.) Also, Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41) and immediately spoke a supernatural word of knowledge. She cried out: “Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42). She then declared Mary to be “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43).
The final bit of evidence of Mary’s innocence is presented by Luke in verses 45 through 55. He records a glorious song which Mary sang to the Lord in the presence of Elizabeth. It begins with the words, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” How many unwed pregnant girls have you ever heard sing a song like that?
Lastly, lets consider two things:
First, Satan hates the doctrine of the virgin birth because it clearly points to the divinity of Jesus. Satan has thus done everything he can to undermine the doctrine’s validity.
Satan’s most effective attack has been to raise up scoffers and mockers at the very center of Christianity – in the pulpit. The usual approach is to ridicule the nativity story as the product of the over active imaginations of ignorant disciples.
Second, the Lord obviously anticipated this attack on His Word, for the Holy Spirit motivated a very special man to give us most of the details regarding the virgin birth. That man was Luke, who just “happened” to be a medical doctor! (See Colossians 4:14.) Isn’t that neat?
Think of it, the Bible’s leading advocate of the virgin birth was a highly educated man who fully understood the biological aspects of conception and birth. He was the person who would have been the most skeptical regarding any “legend” of a virgin birth.
In closing, I began this discussion with the simple need for faith. Now I have no better conclusion than the same thing in the end; …FAITH.
At the next race at Spokane County Raceway in Spokane, WA we will finish up this series as we take on the last five, #’s 16 – 20.
In between, I remind you to do yourself and your knowledge of God Himself a BIG favor and begin listening to the messages from my friend Bruce Stefanik with the links on our website or simply go to our church website itself and click on the series “The Word on the Street” at:
Have a safe and prosperous race today!